White Lea Farm – Removing gorse from Beacon Hill
- White Lea Farm – Removing gorse from Beacon Hill
- White Lea Farm – Re-established Mag Lime grassland
- Blackhall Rocks – cows grazing at Blackhall
- Blackhall Rocks – Restored herb-rich grassland
- Cross Gill – DWT volunteers remove bracken
- Cross Gill – DWT volunteers clearing Gorse
- Cross Gill – Rare-breed Belted Galloways grazing
- Blackhall Rocks – Dave Mitchell identifies plants with staff
Durham’s coast is home to the unique coastal Magnesian Limestone grasslands. We worked with The National Trust, Durham County Council and Durham Wildlife Trust to conserve and restore this grassland, providing the conditions to enhance biological diversity. We worked to make the coastal grassland sites accessible and to encourage people to visit for enjoyment and health benefits.
This Project is now completed.
We worked over three key sites:
White Lea Farm, Easington
The National Trust have been working with their volunteers to clear Beacon Hill of gorse and scrub to encourage the Magnesian Limestone grassland to establish in this area. The farmer, Ron College, has been grazing the area each winter to encourage the growth of Magnesian Limestone flora. This has been successful in restoring this area.
Durham County Council have fenced fields and planted hedgerows around Blackhall Rocks. These pastures are grazed over winter every year. Other areas of the site have hay cuts taken. Both of these activities are encouraging the growth of Magnesian Limestone flora. We have improved the parking facilities, installed new interpretation signage and a new footpath to Deadman’s point. We have successfully applied for a road closure on Deadman’s Lane, in order to deal with issues of flytipping and anti-social behaviour. These measures have worked since they were applied in 2013. Find out more about our work at Blackhall Rocks.
North of Cross Gill
The Grassland Trust was managing this site, and started removing gorse and scrub. However in early 2013 they went into administration. In late 2013 we resolved the legal issues with the site and Durham Wildlife Trust are now managing the site. They have fenced the area, removed gorse from the tops and bracken from Cross Gill. The fenced area is being grazed by rare-breed Belted Galloway cattle each winter, and the early signs are that the Magnesian Limestone Grassland flora is starting to return.
Wild flower surveys
In 2012 we employed an ecologist, Andy Mclay, to survey the Coastal Grassland sites. He identified area’s of high biodiversity value which could act as donor sites for seed collection. He also identified recipient sites for seed spreading. You can download his report here: Durham Coastal Grasslands Report 2012 (PDF, 2Mb)
In 2014 we got Andy to repeat the survey to assess the impact of our work on the Coastal Grasslands at that point in time. You can download the report here: Durham Coastal Grasslands Report 2014 (PDF, 5Mb)
Breeding Bird Surveys
The Countryside Ranger, John Olley, carried out 3 breeding bird surveys at the Blackhall site between Summer 2012 and Summer 2014. They can be downloaded below:
- Blackhall Breeding Bird Survey Summer 2012 (PDF, 1Mb)
- Blackhall Winter Breeding Bird Survey 12-13 (PDF, 4Mb)
- Blackhall Winter Breeding Bird Survey 2014 (PDF, 3Mb)
At all of the sites the Durham Wildlife Trust have worked with the land owners, schools and community groups to harvest Magnesian Limestone wildflower seeds and spread these across target fields that were being grazed in the winter. We have also run sessions on the other wildlife of these sites for schools and community groups.
All the sites are subject to Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Agreements where there is agreement for the land to be managed for Nature Conservation objectives for 10 years.
For details of the community and schools events and information about the North of Cross Gill site, please contact Vivien Kent or Kirsty Pollard at Durham Wildlife Trust.
Tel: 0191 584 3112
For details of the works planned for Blackhall Rocks, please contact Darryl Cox at Durham County Council:
Tel: 0300 026 4586
For details of the work planned at White Lea Farm, please contact Mark Frain:
Tel: 07483 117 657